Sri Mahamariamman Hindu Temple in Kuala Lumpur

Sri Mahamariamman Temple is located in the Chinatown neighborhood of Kuala Lumpur. It is very close to the Kuan Ti (Guan Ti) temple dedicated to the Chinese God of war and literature. If you come by subway you can get off at Pasar Seni LRT station and walk about 50 meters to Jalan Sultan and then turn left at Jalan Tun H. S. Lee. This street is parallel to Petaling Street, the most famous street in Chinatown. You can also take a taxi or Uber (they are slow to arrive) from your hotel in Kuala Lumpur to go to this site.

Enter the Sri Mahamariamman Temple clean

Before entering the Sri Mahamariamman temple you must leave your shoes at a reception. They charge you some ringgit for saving them. Hindu custom says that people must be clean before entering a sacred place. The shoes carry dirt, therefore they are not allowed, but you can use socks.

The entrance is a tall tower 23 meters (75 feet) high. It is full of colorful Hindu gods. The decoration style is typical of South India. It is five levels high, each with a door, adorned with 228 Hindu deities. It is believed to be a threshold between the material and spiritual world.

There is no entrance fee to the temple but you can leave a small donation. When we arrived there was a very excited devotee singing while making with his hands as if he were playing the flute.

Sri Mahamariamman Temple opens every day at 6 a.m. closing between 8:30 to 9:30 p.m. From what I could see in the schedule, they have a lunch break between 1-4 p.m. On holidays the temple hours may vary.

Offer an offering to the deities

Outside the temple there are vendors with stalls selling necklaces made with flowers, including jasmine. They have a delicious smell and are very colorful. I decided to buy one that matched my dress.

I paid about 6 Ringgit or about $1.40 which I found very cheap. These necklaces are used as an offering to the gods but mine ended up being a snack of a monkey with her baby in Batu Caves.

When you enter you can see the necklaces of flowers placed in the different deities as an offering from their faithful.

There are also trays with candles and incense.

The temple is dedicated to Mariamman, the mother goddess of South India (also known as Parvati). The Tamils consider her their protector during their stay in foreign lands.

Her altar is located at the back of the temple and is covered with gold and precious stones. On her right is Lord Murugan and on her left, the elephant-headed deity named Ganesh.

There are murals and paintings that decorate the main prayer room. The building that is currently seen was the result of the renovation done in 1968.

K. Thamboosamy Pillay was a great Tamil

Born in Singapore in 1850, K. Thamboosamy Pillay arrives in Malaysia when James Guthrie Davidson was named the first British resident of Malaya. He was an employee of the law firm in which Davidson was a partner. Then he continues to work in the government until he is sent to India in search of immigrants to work on the railway and public works. Then he becomes a successful entrepreneur, investing in mining, real estate, coffee and construction.

He built the Sri Mahamariamman temple in 1873. It was originally used by the Pillay family as a private sanctuary. Its original location was close to the Kuala Lumpur Railway Station and in 1885 he moved next to Chinatown. The temple was opened to the public at the end of the 1920s. This temple continues to be the richest in the country. It is said that he discovered Batu caves in 1890 and turned them into a place of worship of Lord Murugan.

He was a very philanthropic man and donated to those who in need, irrelevant of their race or religion. Although he was a Hindu, he donated a large amount of money to build the Santa Maria Cathedral in Kuala Lumpur. At present, the Sri Mahamariamman temple and Batu Caves are managed by the Administration Council of Sri Maha Mariamman Temple Devasthanam.

There is another Sri Mahamariamman temple in George Town, Penang province of Malaysia. It was built in 1833 and is older than the one in Kuala Lumpur.

Hinduism in Malaysia

6.3% of the population in Malaysia practices Hinduism and are mostly Tamils. Religion was influential before Islam arrived, the country’s official religion. These Tamils came to work in rubber plantations during the British colonial era. The Hindu holidays of Thaipusam and Deepavali (the festival of lights) are holidays nationwide.

During the Thaipusam festival, Lord Murugan and his consorts (Valli and Teivayanni) are transported from the Sri Mahamariamman temple to Batu Caves which are located outside Kuala Lumpur. You will see in the building next to the temple a giant 21-foot float with silver horses that is used to transport them. More than 1 million people attend this festival that takes place at the end of January or beginning of February. Devotees carry milk as an offering to Lord Murugan.

Malaysia is a country very open to the practices of other religions. There is no better representation of this than a Hindu temple in the Chinatown of a Muslim country.

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